Hearing Loss is a Leading Cause in Dementia
Dr. Lin and his team have published numerous studies on the impact of hearing loss. In this video, he explains some of the links of hearing loss and Dementia, and the impact that hearing loss has on your brain.
Individuals with hearing loss are at a increased risk for developing cognitive decline and Dementia. While the risk increases with degree of hearing loss, it is important to note that even a mild hearing loss (e.g. having some difficulty hearing in background noise, turning up the TV a bit more than your spouse / family, having a hard time following a conversation in the car, etc.,) can increase your risk by 200%!
Withdrawal from social situations is common in individuals with hearing loss. Feelings of embarrassment, fear of making mistakes in conversations, and feeling like you are not part of the conversation are common in individuals hearing impairment – even those with a mild impairment.
Proper hearing health care can enable those with hearing impairment to maintain an active, engaging lifestyle. Keeping the brain mentally fit, with social interactions, communication, reading, playing games, etc., is a recipe for a long, healthy life!
Multiple scientific studies have have demonstrated that hearing impairment is associated with accelerated brain atrophy in both the overall brain, as well as even more advanced reductions in volume associated with the memory, hearing, speech and language portions of the brain.
Cerebral atrophy is a hallmark feature of individuals with Dementia. A decrease in brain volume is essentially the result of losing millions of neurons. As the auditory system ages, we lose sensory cells in our ears. Each of those cells has the potential to make connections with millions of cells throughout the brain in areas involved with hearing, speech, memory, and beyond; thus losing your hearing with aging effects much more then just your ears!
Hearing loss is not normal, and neither is the excess strain that is puts on your brain. While hearing loss may be more common (up to 50% of all people 60-70 years old have hearing loss, and 66% of people over 70 suffer from hearing loss), it is critical that hearing loss be treated. With hearing loss, the brain is constantly on ‘overload’ trying to fill in the missing pieces, and follow the conversation. For example, the image above placed an increased load on your brain by making you fill in the missing pieces to decipher what was written. Now imagine reading a 256-page novel written like this! The extra time it takes you to follow what is being said in a conversation can really add up, and put excessive ‘wear and tear’ on your brain.ms.